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78. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
Dates: 5/9/20 – 5/10/20 (3 hours)
Plot: Poor young little Alice wanders into a rabbit hole where she falls into Wonderland. She ends up exploring a crazy world filled with nonsense.
Experience Before Reading: I’ve seen the Disney movie once or twice and was fairly familiar with the plot.
Takeaway: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is an absolute fever dream. I’ll admit that once I finished, I wasn’t really sure what the message was – was it to remain a kid forever? Or maybe to nourish your imagination? But then I realized that that was exactly the point: it’s whatever you want it to be.
Just like many other artistic mediums, it serves whatever purpose you need it to. Named a work of “literary nonsense” (apparently this is an actual genre!), it takes a while for the reader to realize that Wonderland has no real rules. I know this is something I often hate on – see my Time Machine review – but since here it was the whole point, I appreciated the wackiness in all its glory.
It also made my research quite fun. As humans we look for meaning when there appears to be none, from chaos theory to entropy we like even our disorder to have some semblance of order. I read theories about how the entire piece was riddled with mathematical references (Carroll himself was a mathematician), theories about how to solve the Mad Hatter’s riddle, and whether the book was actually about drugs.
I think sometimes it’s okay to accept that there really was no meaning. Just because this story doesn’t follow our normal conventions doesn’t make it any less valid – it was a fun journey to Wonderland while it lasted. Let the journey take you where you need it to go. And to those who can’t stand the madness: just remember we’re all mad here.
Would I Recommend It?: Yes. Be sure to have the pictures too!
Dates: 5/9/20 (1 hour)
Plot: Alice follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole and into the peculiar world of Wonderland.
Experience Before Reading: I have never read this book before, but did know the plot of it, most likely from movies adaptations which I do not remember seeing, but am sure I did at one point.
Takeaway: This is a wonderful portrayal of a child’s imagination. I loved how Carroll wrote Alice to be uncouth in her meetings with the citizens of Wonderland, since children often say what they think without filter. In the end, this book tries to convey the importance of holding onto your childhood, and though I have never read it, left me with a feeling of nostalgia.
Would I Recommend It?: I so wish that I would have read this book as a child, because I can tell it would have made lasting marks. As it is, I can’t wait for my brothers to have children, so I can read this with them and have some incredibly aptly themed tea parties (a favorite pastime of mine as a child).